JT Holmes is one of the best in the world at the dangerous sport of ski BASE jumping.
Thanks to intense preparation and training as well as nerves of steel, the 35-year-old daredevil has succeeded in a sport that has claimed the lives of so many other great skiers, most notably his best friend Shane McConkey in 2009.
But as showcased in a segment Sunday on CBS’60 Minutes, no matter how much preparation is put into a stunt, things don’t always go as planned.
And when the stunt you are attempting involves skiing off a cliff 13,000-feet up in the Swiss Alps, any mistake can have terrifying and potentially fatal consequences:
The stunt the 60 Minutes crew was filming was six years in the making for Holmes, who wanted to ski off a cliff on the Eiger — an imposing mountain face in the Swiss Alps — before floating safely to the ground.
“You look at it, and you say, ‘Wow, there’s no way someone’s going to ski down that mountain,'” cameramen Dan Bussell, who filmed Holmes’ descent, told 60 Minutes Overtime. “‘No way JT’s going to come off that mountain alive.'”
Despite Bussell’s premonition, Holmes’ first attempt went off without a hitch. It wasn’t until the self-described, “adrenaline enthusiast” decided to try the stunt a second time that something went wrong.
While tearing down the Eiger over 40 mph, Holmes again launched himself from the same cliff as his first run on the mountain with the intention of releasing his skis mid-air, pulling his parachute, and landing safely on the ground.
This time, however, one of his skis didn’t release, sending him plummeting towards the ground for two nerve-racking seconds before Holmes was able to get the second ski off and release his parachute.
And though the incident was remarkably similar to the accident that claimed McConkey’s life, Holmes told the crew that he had no intentions of slowing down after reaching the ground safely.
“The day will come when I tone it down significantly,” Holmes told reporter Anderson Cooper. “[But] It’s not today.”
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